Osteopathy in the Cranial Field

The 40-hour course 'Osteopathy in the Cranial Field' was originally created by the concept's founder Dr. W.G. Sutherland as a comprehensive introduction to his work of more than 50 years. The course has evolved since Sutherland's time but still remains an essential start to learning this approach.

Sutherland understood that the body works as a whole unit of function. He explained the key concepts, called them the five phenomena, as a way of studying and understanding whole body function. The course introduces each of these five phenomena, with treatment approaches that you can use immediately in practice.

The five phenomena are:

  • The mobility of the cranial bones
  • The reciprocal tension of the membranes
  • The motility of the CNS
  • The fluctuation of the CSF
  • The involuntary motion of the sacrum between the ilia

These five phenomena are an oversimplification of a very subtle and complex whole body unit of function. Contemporary scientific research has enhanced our understanding of these phenomena and this will be presented on the course.

This course will help you understand how treating the involuntary mechanism (IVM) can be applied to all, from paediatrics to geriatrics, and how to attain better outcomes of treatment from day one with Balanced Ligamentous Tension (BLT) and other modalities covered on the course:

In the first half of the course you will learn to recognise the unique palpatory quality of the structures making up each of the five phenomena, and begin to understand how they relate to each other. The second half of the course moves into the area of diagnosis and treatment, including the fascia, face and intra-osseous problems.

This course will teach you treatment approaches that you will be able to use immediately in your practice.


Our Module 1: Foundation course or previous undergraduate or postgraduate training in Osteopathy in the Cranial Field

Course Format

The course consists of a well balanced mixture of short lectures or workshops followed by practical sessions. You will work in small groups of 1 tutor to 4 students, giving you almost individual tuition in the practicals. Time is set aside at the end of each day for individual reflection and discussion with your tutor.

Excellent course notes are provided.

Dates & Prices

Columbia Hotel
2 - 6 September 2017 £950 (non-residential)
Columbia Hotel
10 - 14 March 2018 £950 (non-residential)
Columbia Hotel
10 - 14 September 2018 £990 (non-residential)
Columbia Hotel
6 - 10 March 2019 £990 (non-residential)

A limited number of recent graduate bursaries are available worth £150 off the cost of the course.

Scholarships & Bursaries

Scholarships worth up to 50% off non-residential course fees are available (valid from September 2017). Alternatively, a limited number of bursaries are available worth £150 to new graduates. Click for details!


Do I need any previous experience in cranial osteopathy to do this course?

Yes. You need to have had some previous training in cranial palpation. This can be the SCCO Introductory course, previous courses with another provider (please check with the course office), or undergraduate training.

How will this course benefit my practice?

Cranial treatment is highly sought after by patients, who enjoy the fact that it is so gentle and yet so effective. 

You will be able to apply the knowledge and palpation skills gained on this course directly in your practice. It will deepen your osteopathic understanding of your current patients and allow you to treat a wider range of patients and conditions.

Can I use the cranial approach alongside my current osteopathic approach?

The cranial approach to osteopathy can be integrated into your current osteopathic approach in many ways. This can either be as a diagnostic tool, for local or whole body treatment, or to assess the efficacy of your structural approach.  

Can any osteopath learn to treat using cranial osteopathy?

Yes, any osteopath can learn this approach. As with learning any skill, practice makes perfect and it takes many years of study and practice to become expert. It is certainly true that some people find it easier to learn than others, but SCC tutors are expert at recognizing the individual needs of students and giving appropriate help.

Does cranial osteopathy have a scientific basis?

Cranial osteopathy is difficult to ‘prove’. But modern scientific understanding of physiology, in particular the physiology of fascia and electromagnetics in the body, are increasingly validating the theory and palpatory experiences of cranial osteopaths. 

SCCO Research

What next?

Keep a learning log to record questions, successes and failures. This can be a really useful way of mapping your progress, and highlighting areas where you need to seek help or do further study.

Review relevant anatomy after you have seen your patients, this really helps to develop your understanding of what has changed during treatment.

Joining the mentoring scheme can be really useful for ongoing support after the course.

Refresher days: bring your questions to a refresher day where experienced tutors will help you consolidate the learning from the course

Repeat this course: There is a lot to take in on this course, and many students find it useful to repeat the course to consolidate their learning, and to help to apply it in practice.

Join the SCCO pathway: If you are interested in exploring this approach to osteopathy in more depth, the SCCO pathway is tailor made for you. You can take the courses in any order.

Can I repeat this course?

You may repeat this as many times as you wish. Although repeating this course at Module 3 level is no longer a compulsory part of the pathway, feedback from students who have taken this course at M3 in the past is consistently positive. Coming to the course with more clinical experience enables you to gain a deeper understanding and insight into the concepts, particularly in practical sessions. This will improve your confidence with your palpation. Our experienced tutors are able to identify your individual needs and gently guide you to open new doors of understanding and awareness, which will directly benefit your clinical practice.

Why its worth it

Recent feedback has shown that 86% of our students rate our course's value for money as excellent and very good. 

SCCO prides itself on an exceptional standard of teaching, which is personalised to meet individual needs. 

Our Student Feedback can tell you more 

What our students say

Loved it, one of the best courses I've been on!

"The course is expensive, but equally I feel that it is excellent value for money. At Leeds M2 2015 we had 6 excellent, highly experienced tutors (and we were lucky also to have 2 lovely trainee tutors) in a residential environment. They all gave generously of their time and experience and created a gentle, nurturing environment that maximised our opportunity for learning. The course was highly organised with a perfect balance of lectures, practicals and personal space. The practicals were rotated so that we each had different tutor with 3 new colleagues each day. The course materials included notes and diagrams to support every aspect of the course, as well as references for further personal exploration. We were given a pdf file with questions to target our pre-course learning a few weeks before the course started, which also had the answers written in further on in the pdf and suggestions for further reading. The welfare and well-being of the students was paramount, and we were respected as colleagues, which made the course atmosphere wonderful. I look forward to the next SCC courses to come."

Excellent course for all levels of cranial understanding.

"I think the SCCO provides excellent postgraduate training with some of the most skilled teachers I have ever met on a postgraduate courses. The supervision is outstanding and just for that alone makes it good value for money, The whole organisation and coordination of the modules is done so well that it is difficult for me to see how it can be any cheaper. It is an honour and privilege to be supported by such an experienced group of teachers."

I have never before seen such a dedicated group of tutors and lecturers. The tutors and lecturers knowledge and skill base was superb. It was a privilege to have the opportunity to work under guidance of 5 different tutors.

"From booking so many courses last year I think they are very much worth the money. Other courses may be cheaper but you won't get the same amount of feedback as one tutor for a group of four students is indeed a great luxury. Also you can tell from how the lectures are presented and the tutors are able to accommodate the different needs of each student that they are really passionate about their work and a high amount of preparation goes into these courses. Having done Module 2 twice I can say I've learned so much just from doing it again and I'm already planning to do it a third time because it's really worth it!"

Fantastic tutors, great individual attention. So much experience brought to one place.

"This was my third time doing this module - and it won't be the last! Every time I do the course it is like doing a different course - because I am starting from a different point I get different new things out of it and understand old things with a new depth. I love the 'total immersion' aspect of a 5 day residential course - you really get to know other students, so for me that aspect of the cost is well worthwhile. The amount of support for the students makes it a very safe environment in which to work and explore new things. I feel totally confident that the tutor will not allow me to do anything dangerous or harmful, or anyone else to do anything harmful to me, and therefore I can relax and concentrate on getting the most out of the course.

I cannot think of any way that the course could be made cheaper without harming the quality of the experience. If you want the best, you have to be prepared to pay more than the cheapest. The course content is brilliant - so it should be: it has been honed over enough years! But it is the quality of the delivery that enables you to get the most out of it, and that is what you are paying the extra for."

Lovely atmosphere and supportive environment. All my tutors were amazing, very patient.

The course way exceeded expectations, It was expertly run and delivered, the content expertly married structure/function and principles and the tutors were fantastic. All the tutors I worked with and listened to were highly skilled and knowledgeable yet friendly, supportive and empowering. Really impressed.

Very supportive yet room to breathe in the learning process.